Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

12 August, 2007

Weekend Design Challenge: An online RPG innovation
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:30 PM

So, let’s think big this time around: present your innovative idea to add to online RPGs.

The goal here is to think of something truly groundbreaking. Don’t just add something on to an existing type of gameplay, or restrict yourself based on how many people may or may not like the idea. Let’s see some ideas that are unlikely to be seen in major online RPGs in the near future.

I’ll talk about one of my examples after the break to give you some inspiration.

One concept I’d love to see in an online RPG is the concept of generations of characters. This is something that would have to be designed for specifically; you couldn’t just slap this concept on an existing game. It would radically alter the whole concept of the game and how players would approach it. Obviously, there are some negatives as pointed out in the comments to that post, but I think there would be a lot of positive aspects as well. For example, players could actually change the world in drastic ways between patches; the Asheron’s Call monthly content updates on a larger scale.

Obviously not every idea can be so well fleshed out if you try to type it out in the comment form, so feel free to go to your own blogs and post trackbacks.

So, what’s the idea that you think would be truly innovative?

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  1. Mutatable rules controlled by the players. Proposed working title “Insanity”.

    As part of setting up a town/base etc., a player group also gains a sphere of influence to change the rules.

    The influence of their rules gets stronger as you near their “Tree of Life” object. The rules could be just the formulas that affect dice rolls. The more players or higher level the players, the stronger the SOI.

    Where two SOIs meet, the two rulesets blend together. Somehow. These border areas would be designed to be the meat of the game by being very large.

    Clearly this is and would have to be designed to be the main point and reason to be of the game. Some rules would have to be fixed points I think. Maybe not.

    Comment by Dominic Fitzpatrick — 13 August, 2007 @ 2:04 AM

  2. Player created zones a bit in line with permadeath and your idea of generations of characters. Let me explain.

    Allow players to build dungeons and/or zones (considered like expansions) but instead of allowing them to create an infinite number of soulless NPC, allow them to use their own characters.

    When a character is used in some player created content, it becomes unplayable and is now a NPC of the game. Imagine a guild that did every content 10 times and getting bored using their own characters to build permanent and playable piece of lore.

    Players like the feeling of being part of the game and now they could have their efforts immortalized in the game on which they spent countless hours.

    A simple review system could be used to approve each player created content. I use a somewhat similar system (on a much smaller scale) for my web game (shameless plug) and the results have been quite interesting. Players are much more talented than I am to create content and it allows me to concentrate my efforts on improving the game.

    Comment by Over00 — 13 August, 2007 @ 6:30 AM

  3. I had a concept for a player-based “research” system which could be used to advance the technology level in a game world.

    My idea was that players would gather things from the game – lootables, harvestables, craftables, etc, and then they could use these things in “experiments”. The experimentation process would be some sort of character-skill-based minigame. A failed experiment produces nothing, but a successful experiment would result in a “theory counter” being notched forward by some amount. Sort of like an experience bar.

    Perform enough successful experiments, and you unlock a new discovery. I was thinking of doing this in conjunction with a crafting system in a futuristic setting, so the new discovery would take the form of a schematic for a new item that could then be crafted and introduced to the market. But it could just as easily be applied to a fantasy or other setting.

    There would be different fields of research and discoveries might be confined to one field or require certain levels of theoretical understanding in multiple fields. So players could specialize in one area or they could cross specialties. You could make the system very organic if you wanted to.

    Comment by Talaen — 13 August, 2007 @ 7:53 AM

  4. Light Posting for a bit

    [...] Weekend Challenge is another good one (as usual)… online RPG innovations, anyone? I will submit my Detective/Mystery MMO idea as an idea for [...]

    Pingback by Voyages in Eternity — 14 August, 2007 @ 3:49 AM

  5. I’d like to see ‘Graduating Environments’ in games that split PvE from PvP. These would probably take less work to implement then completely new areas of a game world, and are mostly a matter of good writing.

    The idea is a shift away from the concept of a virtual world, to something midway between a shard an an instance. It provides a sense of players being able to influence the world via quests, and to provide the illusion of being responsible for those changes.

    The only downside I see is that the world ceases becoming a continuous object, and instead becomes a series of ‘hotspots’, with a geography that resembles the old MUD room-map.

    Here’s the generic example, from a fantasy perspective:

    Player has a quest to talk to an NPC to arrange travel to a new town.

    Player arrives in town. The player sees an area with a recently-raided town. The player is placed by the server in an instance of the area where the town is partially destroyed, with other people who have yet to complete those same quests.

    The player gets his first group of quests. The player needs to perform several tasks: repel an imminent raid, help gather materials to rebuild the town, etc. The player performs these quests and collects shiny.

    The instance ends, and the player sees the same town, only buildings are being rebuilt in some places and are rebuilt completely in others. The player is placed in a second instance, one with quests that reflect what he has accomplished up to this point, and with other players that have yet to complete those quests.

    The player repeats the process, with several slightly different quests.

    When all the quests for all levels of the environment are complete, the player sees the final status of the town, where things are rebuilt and the player is a local hero. At that point, the area moves into a PvP state, where quests in the area focus on repelling other players from competing factions. The player then moves to the next area(s), and repeats the process.

    Some instances might be repeatable, similar to WoW’s instances. Other instances might lead to different environments depending on whether a quest was failed or passed, for PvE replayability. Some instances might be restricted to certain race/class mixes.

    Comment by PD — 14 August, 2007 @ 11:34 AM

  6. A step forward for MMO’s

    [...] most recent weekend design challenge called for people to present their innovative ideas to add to online RPGs. I thought I’d mention one that I’ve been thinking of for a [...]

    Pingback by — 15 August, 2007 @ 9:47 AM

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